Thursday, October 30, 2008
“Stefan Daniel positioned the Leica M8.2 as the M system flagship. Full 35 mm format for the M system has the highest priority but the difficulties to transfer an existing system to full format are much bigger than creating one from scratch.
After questions about cheaper cameras Mr. Kaufmann made an interesting statement: Between the new digital compact cameras C-LUX 3 and D-LUX 4 on the one side and the M8 is a big price gap - that could be big enough for two cameras. No more details were told...”
Monday, October 27, 2008
Canon Powershot G10
The nearly 15 megapixel G10 was introduced by Canon at photokina and is now available. It sells for around $500. The G10 has been well reviewed here and no less than Michael Reichmann has found its image quality to be comparable to a medium format camera. Pretty impressive to say the least.
One of the things I like about the G10 is that there are not a lot of accessories required to use it. At some point you might want to acquire a external flash and Really Right Stuff’s L-bracket will be available in 4-6 weeks. That’s about it.
Panasonic Lumix LX3/Leica D-Lux 4
These two 10 megapixel digicams were recently introduced and are now available. The LX3 sells for around $460 and the D-Lux 4 sells for about $850. The price difference is hard to fathom since, at their core, both cameras are identical. At 24-60 mm the focal length seems about perfect as noted here. The LX3 has been well reviewed here and here.
Panasonic Lumix G1
The 12.1 megapixel G1 was introduced at photokina and, when it becomes available in November, it will be the first Micro Four Thirds camera. It will sell for about $800 with its Vario 14-45 mm f/3.5-5.6 kit lens. On the plus side, the image quality of the G1 should be the same as a DSLR because of the larger sensor size. In addition, the G1 will accept interchangeable lenses which are certain to grow in number. It also has a built-in electronic viewfinder.
On the down side, the G1, although lightweight, does not appear to be pocketable. Image quality is as yet unknown, although you can see some very early samples here.
The G1 is certainly worth keeping an eye on and may be the closest thing yet to a DMD.
Nikon P6000/Sigma DP2
In preparing this round up I have purposely omitted these two cameras. In order to qualify as a DMD the camera must have the ability to shoot RAW images. The 13.5 megapixel P6000 shoots a proprietary form of RAW, COOLPIX RAW (.NRW). This version of RAW requires Windows Imaging Component which is used with Windows Vista. I view this as a major fumble by Nikon who repeatedly shoot themselves in the foot when it comes to compact digicams. A great many photographers use the Mac operating system and this is a real slap in the face to them.
The 14 megapixel DP2 is still a vaporcam. It looks good on paper, but that’s about it. It will not even be available until March. By then we may have the Olympus Micro Four Thirds camera to consider.
UPDATE: Hands On Coming.
This past weekend I had the opportunity to shoot with both the D-Lux 4 and the Canon G10. Later this week I’ll publish a full report. Stay tooned.
Friday, October 24, 2008
Nikon D700 with 24-85 mm f/3.5-4.5 @ ISO 400
1/800 sec at f/4 at 50 mm
The slopes of the bluffs overlooking Lake Superior are covered with sugar maples. If you are in the area, be certain to seek out one of the local maple syrup makers.
Quaking Aspen, Superior National Forest, October 2008
Nikon D700 with 24-85 mm f/3.5-4.5 @ ISO 400
1/400 sec at f/13 at 28 mm
In addition to sugar maples, the forests in Superior National Forest contain large stands of quaking aspen, also known as trembling aspen, poplar or popple. In addition to providing lumber for the pulp industry, the trees provide food and cover for Minnesota’s favorite game bird, the Ruffed Grouse. Very little post-processing was used on this image. The sky was truly that blue.
Thursday, October 23, 2008
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
Nikon D700 with 24-85 mm f/3.5-4.5 @ ISO 400
1/250 sec at f/8 at 50mm
Just Northwest of the North Shore lies one of the largest wilderness areas East of the Mississippi, the Superior National Forest. The SNF embraces several state forests as well as the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. In certain spots along the ridgelines overlooking the lake the main tree species are sugar maples. On a back road we ran across this log surrounded by younger trees.
Monday, October 20, 2008
I note that PMA09 will follow on the heels of WPPI on March 3-5, 2009. Any guesses as to what the “BIG, BIG” event is all about? The D3x? A medium format sensor? A 1 m telephoto?
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
I’m back from the North Country and going through my images. Hopefully I can post a few here in fairly short order. I learned a lot about the D700 on this trip and want to share that information as well. A week-long trip like the one I just completed makes me yearn for a DMD camera even more. The Online Photographer has a hands-on review of Canon’s new G-10 by Edward Taylor here. Is it a DMD? If not, it’s a step in the right direction. What with Micro Four Thirds on the horizon I think we’ll get there yet. In the meantime, I am still intrigued by the Leica D-Lux 4. I’ll get a chance to see one next weekend and give you a full report. I also hope to snag an interview with the Leica rep.
Speaking of the Nikon D700, The Online Photographer has kindly published my hands-on report here. My thanks to Mike Johnston for offering me space on his highly respected blog. Given my recent week-long experience with the D700 I would like to respond to some of those who commented and revise some of the opinions expressed in that article.
In the T.O.P. article I wrote a bit about Nikon’s Picture Controls and its in-camera processor, the Expeed. Apparently many of Mike’s readers (a sophisticated bunch) do not appreciate JPEGs or in-camera processing. I still do not understand why someone would spend $3000 on a digital camera and not take advantage of all the features that it has to offer. You can get a good film camera and a great lens for much less. That said, I only shoot JPEGs for family photos. For everything else, I shoot RAW. In addition, I no longer use Nikon’s Picture Controls and I never did on the D700. I did fool around with them on my D3. Now I set the Picture Control at Landscape (this needs to be downloaded from Nikon’s website) to tweak what I see on the LCD and leave it alone. Finally, as for the ISO 25,500 images, I must presume that the commentator did not see the resulting images. I did. I like grain too, but there is a distinct difference in my mind between grain and pixilation. As for “art” I can’t describe it, but I know it when I see it.
After spending a solid week with the D700 I still think that it is a fantastic camera. I was frustrated by its performance one night when I was attempting to shoot the Moon behind the pines. I just could not get the exposure right. Finally, after many minutes of adjusting settings and some help from a friend I got some decent exposures. Nevertheless, the Moon is still blown out. I have tried correcting it in Lightroom to no avail. In retrospect, I should have used the “sunny 16 rule” and shot manually.
The D700 is no lightweight. As I suspected, it got pretty heavy on those up and down trails. Nevertheless, I found that mounted correctly on a tripod I could carry it respectable distances.
As I stated, the Autofocus system is rather complex. I found that there is no “one size fits all” approach and I needed to adjust as appropriate. The same goes for exposure. Don’t just rely on Matrix metering.
A couple of parting shots. Concerning the D700, DP Review has now published their review and, as I anticipated, it got a Highly Recommended rating. Read the rest of their in-depth review here. Finally, while I was on the North Shore last week, I had the pleasure of meeting photographer Travis Novitsky whom I have written about previously. Travis’s day job is as a Park Ranger at Grand Portage State Park on the Minnesota/Canadian border. Travis was kind enough to share some of his new work with us and, as usual, I was blown away. Check out his latest work here. He also directed us to a stunning location that we would have missed otherwise. Thanks, Travis!
Friday, October 3, 2008
Wednesday, October 1, 2008
So, is it time to “get back”? Not so long ago I tried the very same thing that Ken is recommending. I got a beater Leica M7 and a Zeiss 35 mm f/2 Biogon and several rolls of film. I discovered, to my chagrin, that, unless you follow Ken’s instructions to the letter, you will be greatly disappointed. I took my exposed film to my local Ritz/Wolf/Proex and asked them to scan the negatives on to CDs. I had been doing that with some leftover rolls and it is convenient. When I took a look at the results from my new film outfit, however, I discovered that the best that they could do was about a 1.4-1.8 MB JPEG file. On my D700 that’s about the same quality as shooting JPEG Basic Large or Normal Medium. To my mind that’s just not good enough.
So what about Ken’s method. To begin with he recommends using Costco’s photo processing services. A rather radical notion considering the people who are still using film. Ken claims that Costco can make 4.5 MB JPEGs at 3,089 x 2,048 pixels. According to my manual that’s very close to the same quality as a JPEG Large Fine image from my D700. Now we’re talking. Furthermore, if that’s not good enough, Ken says that North Coast can make scans of 16.8 MP (about 5,035 x 3,339 pixels)! That’s the size of a Lossless Compressed RAW image from a D700.
Before you run out and buy that film outfit, a few caveats. A Costco membership is $50 per year. They do not accept credit cards other than their own or American Express. Each Costco is different and this level of processing may not be available at your local store. North Coast is in San Diego which means shipping your film. While cheap, film processing still costs money that digital does not. That said, if you do your homework the joys (?) of film could be yours again.